On the Slippery Slope to Gay Marital Bliss

On Friday, November 6, Andrew Koppelman, the John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern, visited William & Mary School of Law and gave a talk on gay marriage. His speech was presented by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law and the American Constitution Society.

Koppelman stated that the gay marriage movement is one of the mot successful such movements in U.S. history; ten years ago, no gays could marry; in 1999, Vermont was the first state to allow it, and at present there are nine states, representing almost 25% of the United States by population, that give same-sex couple all the rights of married couples (though only four states actually use the term ‘marriage’). There is a clear trend towards continued acceptance of gay marriage: 58% of 18-34 year olds support it, whereas only 24% of those over 65 do.

Much of Koppelman’s talk focused on presenting a response to the work of the so-called  ‘new natural law’ theorists, such as Robert George, John Finnis, and Patrick Lee. These thinkers have attempted to sketch out what makes the relationships of heterosexual couples intrinsically more valuable than those of homosexuals, even when the former couple is unable to conceive a child.

According to Koppelman, one of the approaches taken by these theorists includes the argument that heterosexual sex involves some ‘two in one-ness,’ or a biological unity, that gay sex doesn’t. According to this argument, each human is an incomplete, potential part of a mated pair that becomes one during the sex act.

Koppelman engaged this argument by stating that simply because two organisms jointly carry out a task does not means that there is ‘organic unity.’ After all, a couple can walk together, arm in arm, and we wouldn’t say there is organic unity embodied in this act. Humans can assign value to anything we like, but at bottom, there is nothing about the reproductive act between a heterosexual, infertile couple that makes that relationship intrinsically more valuable than the relationship between two men.

After all this logic and philosophy, students were ready with some questions.

Asked about what it would take for the Supreme Court to take up the issue of gay marriage, Koppelman pointed out that it is a political ‘hot potato’ and the Court likely doesn’t want to go near it. Moreover, he noted, this is probably for the best, since backlashes are more likely to occur when a movement attempts to take on the whole country before the country is ready (as happened with abortion, in his view), and the ‘good guys’ are already winning this battle.

Koppelman also noted that he has no problem with the term ‘civil unions’ as opposed to ‘marriage,’ because legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships inherently normalizes them, and makes it inevitable that before long gay marriage will in fact be a reality; it puts us on the slippery slope. Finally, Koppelman observed that the political muscle that this movement now enjoys has its roots in the decisions of gay people to come out, a choice which required great courage at the beginning of the movement, and remains enormously important today.

Professor Koppelman’s remarks were stimulating and informative and presented a picture of a movement destined to succeed, even if not immediately.

Try to find sources that the editor of the magazine you wish to write for will http://www.pro-essay-writer.com be pleased with?
Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm Comments Off on On the Slippery Slope to Gay Marital Bliss
Tags:

Comments are closed.